This scene shows, at first glance, four women about to bathe in a river. A closer look reveals the artist’s mastery of color and composition. The scene is built up in thin layers of brilliant hues of paint, merging figurative and abstract elements. The water, vegetation and bodies blend into a swirling, animated scene, as if they’ve appeared in a dream.
Gauguin left France for Tahiti in search of a ‘primitive’ way of life. This painting reveals his fetishized view of Tahitian culture, adding an erotic tinge to his subjects’ unselfconscious, “natural” nudity.